On two of the four holiest days of the year, area Buddhists followed custom by gathering at temples across Pattaya.
It was busy all over Pattaya, as Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa fell on a Tuesday and Wednesday, giving some lucky folks up to five days off. Bars were closed and alcohol could not be sold during the Buddhists holidays, but the area remained lively, with most of the action turning from Walking Street to walking around temples.
Candle processions were held at most temples, including Big Buddha Hill, where thousands of people came to make merit. Thais and foreigners alike carefully followed the line around the great Buddha image. After the procession, they lit candles, prayed and asked for a better and prosperous life.
At Chaimongkol Temple, the “wien tien” ceremony capped a day of activity on Asalaha Bucha, which began with the “tak baht” ceremony to offer alms and daily necessities to monks.
The majority of the offered items were actually neon light bulbs, which have come to replace candles handed out in olden times.
Finally, after nightfall, candles were lit as people marched around the temple grounds for the wien tien.
With such a large crowd in town, police were even busier, not only dealing with nightmarish traffic, but patrolling to keep tourists safe from scammers and thieves.
Yet the Pattaya Tourist Police took time out to make merit on the holy days. Commander Pol. Maj. Piyapong Ensarn led a delegation of officers to Chaimongkol Temple to donate robes, candles and other necessities before treating monks to a morning meal.
Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens, as usual, put its own spin on the holidays, staging a candle parade for Khao Phansa, the start of Buddhist Lent, featuring elephants.
Massive carved, fully decorated candles ushered around the grounds of the Najomtien Sub-district garden to showcase the tradition of Thailand.
The candles featured the legendary “payanak” serpent and “ensee” eagle, both representing mythical figures worshipped by Thais in ancient times. The parade also featured traditional dances from all four regions of the kingdom.
The candle parade proved a huge success as it attracted thousands of tourists. The objective of the event was to raise the awareness of visitors that Thailand has a strong religious following and how important it is to Thai culture.